#fdol131 mid-point or unit 4 thoughts @openfdol


Helping others grow. What works?

This was our second PBL-based unit. I can see that the groups are coming closer together now, at least the participants who have been actively engaged in the previous unit. Others have ‘disappeared’ completely. I am wondering if we could find out the reasons for this and when we complete FDOL131, I think we will probably send a short questionnaire to all who registered regarding this. There is now stability in my groups and I think the other 2 PBL facilitators would agree with this also. Commitment has increased, working practices based on COOL FISh seem to work and are agreed and intended learning outcomes set by the groups are achieved. The level of engagement and collaboration is in many cases impressive but also the level of autonomy within my groups. I have stepped back without disappearing completely but I hope that my groups know that I am here if/when they need me.

General observations about unit 4

  • We merged two more groups and now have 4 groups in total.
  • There was a delay in completing unit 3 task and post to the FDOL community space by some groups.
  • Providing feedback on groups work could have been managed better? Perhaps we need more specific guidelines. What is missing are assessment criteria. Groups set their own intend learning outcomes but when asking for feedback, I think we could ask the groups itself to request feedback on specific aspects of their work using David Boud’s feedback classification and specifically mark 2. I think this would resolve the issue of non-existing assessment criteria in this open course.
  • I have noticed that some members of my groups have created portfolios to capture some of their reflections and learning in this course. This was something we discussed during the planning stage as to how much we could expect from participants and we added it as an option to create a portfolio. I think next time, we will make this a recommendation for open learners. While the creation of a portfolio might have added to the complexity from a technological perspective, there is value in creating and using one to collect our thoughts, reflections and learning in our personal space. I would also be interested to hear what our participants would say about this.
  • There is no or limited movement in the general discussion in the FDOL131 community space.

Invitation to reflect
As we completed our second PBL unit, it might be useful to briefly reflect on your experience working together during unit 3 and I am including here 3 questions to help you with this.

1. What did you enjoy most during unit 4?

2. What are the main difficulties you experienced during unit 3 and how did you overcome these?

3. How could your facilitator and group members help you enhance your experience during FDOL?

#fdol131 unit 3 coming to an end @openfdol

THINK Together

together we are richer

Our first 2 weeks of PBL are over. Groups had the opportunity to work closer together using COOL FISh and explore one of the stories from our archive which were contributed by FDOL participants. Having authentic stories would contextualise learning and I could see that some groups also choose to get together and construct their story at the beginning of unit 3. My groups made a good start. I think the fact that they started working together in unit 2 was helpful and prepared them better for unit 3. I can sense that their experience became now more personal through the relationships they have started forming.

general observations about unit 3

  • Discussions in the FDOL community space did not happen
  • Webinar was well attended and the recording was accessed afterwards as well. Received really positive comments about the webinar.
  • We also noted limited activity in some of the groups and are thinking to merge further groups to enable more active participants to be part of an active PBL group. This did happen and we had 5 groups at the end of unit 3.
  • Some groups work really effectively together and I could see that the level of commitment and engagement was impressive. Group members supported each other really well, felt that they were learning and completed the task successfully.
  • My groups organised Google hangouts autonomously and they didn’t feel that they needed me there. A good sign that groups are maturing and are able to self-manage their activities. Wonderful. I am of course here if/when I am needed. I am kept up-to-date as I follow with great interest their group spaces where activities are captured and comment when needed or asked to.
  • There is a need to understand why some participants are still in-active and others who have been active have now disappeared. An invitation for reflection has been posted in my 2 groups and I hope that participants will use this opportunity to reflect on their unit 3 experience and share their thoughts with us.
  • Also thinking about the evaluation of FDOL and the interviews I would like to conduct. Putting some first questions together at the moment.
  • Would also like to suggest to my groups to write about their experience a reflective article for further dissemination and I hope they will be interested. They don’t know yet about this… but I guess they know now 😉

Invitation to reflect

As we complete our first PBL unit, it might be useful to briefly reflect on your experience working together during unit 3 and I am including here 3 questions to help you with this.

1. What did you enjoy most during unit 3?

2. What are the main difficulties you experienced during unit 3 and how did you overcome these?

3. How could your facilitator and group members help you enhance your experience during FDOL?

#fdol131 thoughts and observations on unit 2 @openfdol

by Chrissi Nerantzi


Unit 2 arrived and action was initially limited. Some conversations started happening in the FDOL community space but the groups hadn’t found each other yet.

A lot of effort was put into contacting participants and we noticed that many who had expressed interest to work within PBL groups seemed to be in-active. We were trying to understand why and emails were sent out to all. We noticed that sending messages to individual participants triggered a reply from them so we started to understand what was happening. Many were too busy and perhaps didn’t understand the level of engagement required to fully participate in the PBL groups. What was the motivation to join this course initially (we have the info in the registration data) and what changed now? We need to understand more about this and would welcome your thoughts on this.

As some group members were in-active, we decided to merge groups and we reduced them from 8 to 6. Also we went from 4 PBL facilitators to 3. First meetings were now arranged by the PBL facilitators who took a more pro-active role to help the groups get together for the first time. This was achieved in some groups and the first Google hangouts were arranged. Suddenly things started to change, at least in some groups. This is how it felt to me and I could see the level of commitment going up. At least for some. I am really interested in finding out how the hangouts changed behaviours and engagement.

I am currently working with 2 groups and we have a core of about 4 participants. This seems to be a good number to co-ordinate and collaborate effectively. We had a fruitful hangout with both groups. My approach was facilitative and I wanted to make sure from the beginning that the group itself would be leading their activities. I think this was achieved and I was really happy with how the groups embraced this. For many it was the first time working remotely with others and they also used some of the technologies for the first time too. One of my groups has some experience in PBL while the other has limited experience of PBL but were keen to learn. So both groups did use unit 2 to carry out a tester PBL task linked to learning that needed to be done around PBL in readiness for unit 3. This was a fantastic decision and both groups worked well together to make progress and develop a better understanding of PBL through a collaborative task based on PBL. Some of the resources provided such as COOL FISh were used but I am wondering if they were too detailed… something we need to revisit, I think.

By the end of unit 2 both of my groups had make good progress with the task they set themselves and I was confident about what would follow if the level of commitment and engagement would be maintained.

general observations about unit 2

  • The webinar seemed to be the highlight of the unit. The recording was accessed afterwards as well which was positive
  • Some conversations around Flexible, Distance and Online Learning did happen in the FDOL community space and participants shared experiences
  • Resources sharing was limited within Diigo. More links were shared in the FDOL community space
  • Organisers connected the the main FDOL community space with the PBL group spaces and the FDOL course site
  • Groups got together and started using their PBL spaces
  • First group hangouts were a positive step to bring groups together and start learning together
  • Merging groups was a necessary move and triggered actions within the groups
  • Facilitators became pro-active in helping the group members to connect
  • High-level of group-commitment was observed in groups 1 and 2 among core members
  • Organisers and facilitators continued using their private community space to co-ordinate course activities and also organised Skype meetings on a weekly basis. Throughout the unit, the organisers were in regular contact via the Facebook messaging system.

Feel free to share your observations and reflections here too!

#fdol131 unit 1 reflections @openfdol

Please note, this is a copy of the post in our FDOL community space where this was originally posted. Up to now, I wasn’t sure where to post my reflections but I have no decided to add them to my personal space and hope that you will stop by if you are participating in this course and also comment.

I am also including the comments made there, just to keep things together. But I have anonymised these. If anybody is unhappy for me to use them here, please let me know as soon as possible and I will remove immediately. Thank you.

by Chrissi Nerantzi


We wanted everything to go well and tried to close any loop holes along the way. It was really good to have a team of 4 working closely together as the time progressed and exchange ideas and agree a way forward. We use another Google + community to communicate with each other but also store documents in Google docs and Dropbox. On top of this, I communicate with Lars via Facebook using the private messaging feature there. Why I am sharing all that with you? I think it is might be useful for others to find out how we communicate in the background with each other and that co-ordination is really important. There are a number of tools we are using and this can be challenging at times and we are asking ourselves: Do we really need all these tools? The Google tools have given us flexibility and we can get in touch with each other on the go,which I think is a big bonus. The same way we are using this community here.

One thing I would like to reflect on is the orientation webinar. I thought we had worked it all out, I had tested the link BUT, and there is a big but, I didn’t test to upload the presentation in advance and assumed that it would be work as I have used Blackboard Collaborate many times before. Well, I logged in 1 hour in advance and soon discovered that we had a problem. I messaged Lars and he was there is seconds. Tried to upload the presentation from his end but it didn’t work. I was getting frustrated with myself and didn’t really know how to resolve this.Together with Lars we started exploring various options, such as sharing desktop, uploading the presentation to Google doc and open it from there but nothing was ideal as we would loose the whiteboard interactivity!!!  In the end we decided to go for the editing view and shared desktop so that I could also see participants and the chat. I couldn’t believe what was happening. All these months! All that hard work and now I was not able to upload the presentation… anyway, Lars helped me to calm down, he is really good at this!!! and we started on time. Looking back and after a short conversation with all PBL facilitators that evening when we reflected on the webinar and how it went, I felt that I survived and that we need now to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. We didn’t have any technical support during the webinar and I think this is something that can be very handy when things like that happen… but what do we do if it is not available?

I will stop here as this post is getting very long and will wait for others to comment.

Comments received via the FDOL Google community: 

“Hi all! Well like I mentioned in my presentation this is a challenge for me to work with social media. It took me a while to join Google+ and now I also have a twitter account. I know that several educations are using different platforms in their teaching and thought I might be more interactive with my students on the internet for example ping pong. The thing is it takes lots of time to just check what is going on and read all comments and also try and reflect and puts comments myself. I have difficulties seeing that I will have this time for my teaching since I am mostly in the clinic with my students and since I am responsible for a group of patients who really fill my day my teaching will also cover the evenings. This I can accept for a period of time like now but not all the time. We all need some free time and time with our families.
How do you all work it out? I love working close to people and have meetings with patients, colleagues and students in real life and I do not want to communicate through social media all the time.
Comments? Suggestions?”

“My initial reflection was – Wow How am I going to get my head around all of these tools etc. I am aware of some of the tools but never used them and this caused me some initial anxiety (and excitement!). I have recently acquired an Ipad and wanted to see if this would work for the webinar. I downloaded the app and was ready to go. Unfortunately I found a problem with speaking and adding to the whiteboard but found the webinar very useful. I have used collaborate once before and find this a useful resource for working together. I am looking forward to the PBL sessions and will be interested to see how this works as I have only completed PBL face-to-face. I did pick up the ‘PBL online’ book (I have added this resource to Diigo) and am reading this in readiness….”

“I’m finding the first week difficult due to other work/personal commitments and was away for a long weekend with no internet access. It did make me consider the relevance and importance of online and offline resources when studying at a distance: the possibility of  downloading content to view when away from my umbilical WiFi at work or home. I have also created a Google+ account as I previously did not have one. Traditionally I’ve fostered a division between my social networking presence and my professional life in the belief that I did not want to blur the boundaries. I’m aware I’m still doing this on the FDOL course as Google+ will only be a professional resource. My Twitter is a ‘locked’ account and covers issues of interest outside of my professional life so I’m considering creating a different Twitter account and having another presence online.. multiple personalities.. how to manage these? Raising interesting questions for me already :o)”

“On Monday evening the 20th I was trying hard to find my group members on the net. But without that muck of results. I stayed om the working place on Google + between 7 and 8 and saw 1, 2 and 3 anonymous persons watching the same site. I asked some questions on the chat but no answers. This experience makes me ask whether or not I was on the right place? And an other question: is this conversation the place to communicate?”